Lebanese Tahina Fish (Samke Harra)

Let’s be honest, plain white fish is just a bit, well, beige. I’m guessing though, if you’re reading this, you’re not here for my charm and good looks and you’re expecting a solution for this beigeness. Well, ta-da! I present you with my version of Samke Harra, which basically means spicy fish. There’s a restaurant down the road from my house that does a kick-arse plate of this, but I may have matched it. Yalla Habibi, get your fish on!



Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Pop your fish fillets on a tray and bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on the thickness).

Once cooked set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the tahina with about 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice and enough water to make a smooth pouring consistency (around 6 tablespoons). Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Throw in the onion, garlic and capsicum and cook for a few minutes to soften them.

Add the tomatoes, herbs, spices, harissa and remaining lemon juice. Cook for a few minutes to soften the tomatoes and wilt the herbs. Season with sea salt and pepper.

The fish should now be cooled enough to handle. Break it apart into big chunks, checking for any remaining bones (you don’t want to serve this with a side of Heimlich Maneuver).

Add the fish to the pan and coat in the mixture, turning carefully, you don’t want to break down the fish too much. Pour in the tahina sauce and mix gently through.

Chuck it onto a serving dish and garnish with the toasted nuts.

Serves 4 as a main


  • 1 kg firm white fish fillets (I used hammour)
  • 1/2 cup tahina
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green capsicum, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • handful chopped parsley
  • handful chopped coriander
  • 1 heaped teaspoon harissa paste
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup mixture of toasted pine nuts, walnuts and/or pistachio to garnish along with some pomegranate seeds if you’re feeling fancy